Korean bean sprout soup, which is both cheap and easy to make, has a light and refreshing flavor. It's made from simple ingredients: soybean sprouts, soy sauce, garlic, water and seasonings.
Soybean sprouts are larger than the more commonly found mung bean sprouts. They're also more yellow in color (as opposed to green), and have a coarser texture. They're used in various dishes, including soups, stews and spring rolls, in the various cuisines of east and southeast Asia.
Healthy, full of vitamin C, and low in calories, Korean bean sprout soup is a good source of vegetarian protein, plus the important vitamins folate and thiamine. In fact, soybean sprouts contain more folate and thiamine than mung bean sprouts. Expect to get some of your necessary minerals from this soup, too: Soybean sprouts contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese.
Korean bean sprout soup is said to be useful as a remedy for hangovers, especially when a little kimchi is added. In fact, many Koreans habitually reach for this soup after a drink-filled night on the town and swear by its ability to curb the after-effects of too much alcohol.
Add a splash of red pepper flakes (kochukaru) to this soup to augment its vitamin C content and it's great for colds, as well. Finally, it's an excellent option for a Korean dish that's vegetarian, since it doesn't make use of any meat-based broths.
Note that you can control the spice level of your soup by adding less or more of the red pepper flakes. If you like your soup particularly spicy, you even can add more red pepper powder than I've recommended below—just use your own best judgment, knowing your tolerance for heat.
- 3 cups soybean sprouts, washed and if desired, roots trimmed
- 6 cups water or broth
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 scallion or bunch of chives (optional garnish)
- 1 tbsp Korean red pepper powder (kochukaru) (optional)
- In a medium-sized pot, saute garlic in soy sauce and sesame oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
- Add water and bean sprouts and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce to low heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until you can smell the strong odor of bean sprouts cooking.
- If you're making the spicy version, add the red pepper powder 5 minutes before turning off the heat.
- If you're using scallions or chives to garnish, add to the pot at the end and then immediately take off heat.